|While regular hunting rifles with powerful scopes have, in many conflicts, been employed by marksmen to hit far away targets, this, by no means, makes them sniper rifles. Sniper rifles differ from regular civilian rifles in several important areas.|
A sniper rifle will look longer than a standard hunting rifle. The most likely because the most distinct characteristic of a sniper rifle is it's extended barrel. This barrel has been made to reduce the effects of heat and gravity, which can warp an ordinary barrel, and cause it to be off mark at long distances. The barrel is also likely to be what is called a "floating barrel". This refers to the way the barrel is attached in only a few places to the stock. This reduces the amount of vibration produced in the barrel after the shot.
The stock of a sniper rifle will be designed to be fired from a prone position. The stock will also be made of a composite material or fiberglass. This is due to the fact that wood warps under extreme conditions of cold, heat, or moisture. A warped stock would certainly throw off the shot of all but the best snipers. A composite material stock doesn't have this problem. A stock on a sniper rifle will also, most likely, be equipped with a bipod to help steady the gun when firing while laying down.
Another defining feature of a sniper rifle is it's telescopic sight. The scope on on sniper rifles can get up to forty times magnification. This allows the sniper to precisely aim his weapon at his target.
The action in a sniper rifle can come one of two ways: It can either be bolt action, or semi automatic. Both choices have their own strengths and weaknesses. The bolt action sniper rifle is thought to be less likely to malfunction, due to it's fewer number of moving parts, but has a much slower rate of fire that the semiautomatic model. The semiautomatic model has a much higher rate of fire, but is less subtle, as the cartridge casing ejects automatically after every shot.